If you want to dine like a high roller, you can certainly do that at the elegant new Blu Halo, which opened Thursday night in Bannerman Crossing.
Consider the $98, 40-ounce, bone-in ribeye (for two) dubbed “The Boss.” Pair that with a fine vintage from the wine list with choices priced from $27 to $2,500. Or splurge on a $200 martini made with Nolet’s Dry Gin, The Reserve (about $1,200 retail per bottle, one of only 10 in Florida), and spiked with saffron.
Or, you can buy a wine locker for a $300 annual fee that gets you a 15 percent discount on whatever wine you order. For true VIP treatment, tell the staff you’ll be in to dine at 6 and they’ll have your Silver Oak cab decanting when you arrive at your table.
But owner Keith Paniucki stressed that he’s hardly a snooty guy.
Chef Tyler McMahan also features a range of more moderately priced dishes, including chops, crab cakes, chicken and some steak options for under $25. Fish is higher, with Chilean sea bass at $36. Starters, soups and salads range from $8 to $18. Dishes for Saturday and Sunday brunch are $8 to $16.
“If you can dine at Bonefish, you can dine here,” Paniucki said. “The last thing I want to do is price anyone out.”
Paniucki grew up poor on the south side of Tallahassee, one of three children raised by their mom. Times were tough. “I saw her robbed in the street once,” he said. And there were times, he said, when they went to bed hungry.
Paniucki worked hard, eventually opened a few Tropical Smoothie shops in Orlando. He later got into the tech business, and 15 years ago launched the audio-visual firm Signal House Communications. But his first job was in a restaurant and he always dreamed of opening his own place. When Bannerman Crossing was announced, he spoke with a consultant and determined the location would work for a big city-style restaurant with a bit of panache.
“If Las Vegas and South Beach had a baby, it would be Blu Halo,” he quipped.
We got a first look at Blu Halo at a media preview. The place was packed with a well-dressed crowd sipping wine and snagging canapes circulating the well-appointed space, designed by Tallahassee’s Catherine D. Baker of SheltonDean. We haven’t eaten a meal here yet but the setting and atmosphere are impressive. The venue can seat 210 but it feels intimate. It’s certainly a contemporary, upmarket addition for Tallahassee.
The round bar, with changing, glowing lights is the focal point. (So is that bottle of gin, occupying a premier spot in the middle.) Drinks will include craft beer and smoky nitrogen cocktails. A round blue ring of lighting, the halo, will be arriving soon to go above the bar. Booths are upholstered with shimmery blue cloth. Black and white art by Tallahassee artist Liz Frisbie adds a touch of class. Her husband Ken made the cabinetry. Check out the inlaid blue streaks in the pecky cypress communal tables — they light up at night. There’s a handsome private room with space for 20 with audio visuals, and patio seating for 40 by a shopping center pavilion that eventually will offer entertainment.
Providing the flair of a big-city dining experience is one of Paniucki’s goals, and his demographic studies indicate Tallahassee is ready for this pretty new gem.
Blu Halo offers dinner service nightly, with a happy hour and a late-night menu. Breakfast and brunch is offered Saturday and Sunday.
When you go…
3431 Bannerman Road, #2